Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘planning

April Showers

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Yeah. These are April showers alright.

This storm arrived a little sooner than expected and produced a robust initial burst of snow, which chased me out of work early, in attempt to get well ahead of the inevitable afternoon weather-induced traffic disasters.

For the most part, I succeeded, needing only to slow down for a handful of congested sections, but not any backups that came to a complete stop.

My big day in court for jury duty today was foiled because the case settled at the last minute. That was good, and bad for me. Now I can get in another day of work, except it will need to be from home because the big storm is making the commute inadvisable.

At least I don’t need to try to navigate the scary drive to the courthouse in Ellsworth, either. My jury duty runs until April 30, unless I sit on a case, so a different trial remains an unknown possibility for a couple more weeks.

The short distance to the county courthouse was a drive I was willing to risk, if they hadn’t settled in advance, but the storm also created a threat of postponement that would have complicated my schedule, too.

The possibilities are almost too much for my little brain to comprehend all at once.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of May. It can’t possibly snow in May this year, can it?

And all these April showers will lead to blossoms of May flowers, no?

A guy can dream.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Not Easy

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It’s not easy to write about moving our horses… There are a lot of emotions built up regarding the next change in store. After weeks of consideration, Cyndie and I recently decided we need to find another home for Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter.

Last week, we learned that the previous owners of the herd are willing to accept the horses back, and we have now begun the process of detailing the specifics involved. Although an actual date of transfer is yet to be determined, just verbalizing the idea, and now having the outcome decided, has already triggered powerful emotions for both of us.

The horses are such an integral part of our lives that we struggle to imagine what it will be like after they are gone. We are each looking forward to regaining a little of our independence again, but it remains to be seen whether we will stay on this property for long without them.

I’ve been mentally revisiting the day the horses arrived here back in September of 2013. That was a pinnacle of thrills that barely compares with any other in my life, except maybe the day Cyndie and I got married. The ensuing years have included more incredible experiences than I can count, having gone from zero experience owning horses, to developing intimate knowledge of our herd.

They have definitely provided me with plenty of things to write about over the years.

Yesterday, while I was tending to the cleanup detail near their evening feeding time, Dezirea suddenly laid down and rolled around in her blanket. By the time I got around to thinking it would have been a good photo, she was already back on her feet.

Then Hunter walked over to the same spot and started pawing the ground. I knew he was going to lay down as well, so this time I scrambled to dig out my pocket camera. In my haste to capture him while he was upside down, I accidentally pushed the power button to turn the camera off again.

By the time I got it back on, he was upright.

It is going to be incredibly difficult to adjust to no longer having them live with us.

Horses have a powerful energy, and I don’t think we will ever be able to replace it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Thinking Seriously

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We are currently doing some serious thinking about making significant changes, not just around here, but in our lives. It is an exercise in re-examining everything, because one thing leads to another, due to the connectedness of all things.

We may not change everything all at once, but just like the series of changes we enacted to bring ourselves to where we are today, a shift in focus, and the first step we take, will likely kick off a metamorphosis toward a new chapter of which we have yet to comprehend.

In the middle of it all, horses. Our precious horses.

It is unconscionable that we would even think of turning our attention away from them. But, in our situation, they just might be the first to go.

This is a really hard thing to contemplate.

Those who doubted our sanity when we set off on this adventure of moving from our home in the suburbs, where family, life-long friends, and gainful employment were close at hand, to a rural location with uncertain dreams of using horses to help others, will now be able to have their opinions validated.

That’s not supposed to matter to the dreamers of the world, but the thought still occurs.

I am able to use the priceless experiences I have had over the last seven years as contented justification for our adventures thus far. Would there have ever been a “completion” for what we set out to accomplish? I’m not entirely sure, although I had visions of possibilities that it appears will go unrealized.

Is there ever really a completion of our endeavors, or is it all an ongoing process?

If we no longer have horses here, it will certainly feel like a completion, but it could just as well be perceived as a new beginning.

It’s complicated.

As such, we are giving it all some serious thinking. Indoors. By the fire. While it snows and snows and snows outside.

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Saturday Thinking

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It’s a gorgeous winter day today. Seriously cold outside, but wonderful to look at. I don’t know why we find ourselves wondering this morning about where else we might choose to live, if we didn’t live here.

We are pondering the details that would allow us a return trip to visit Ian and family in Portugal.

If we didn’t have animals, we would have a lot more freedom to travel. If we lived closer to family and my workplace, navigating every single event in our lives would be dramatically more convenient.

Maybe grieving opens us up to such thinking. Cyndie is processing family photos and documents in preparation for a funeral service tomorrow for an aunt whom Cyndie had been assigned the responsibility of power of attorney. Caring for her aunt has consumed a majority of her attention for the last nine months.

Back in 2012, when we found this place, one of my early impressions was that we had discovered the place where I would live the rest of my life. It is very conflicting to contemplate the possibility of alternatives.

At the same time, I have gained a keen sense of how everything is always in a constant state of change.

I’m feeling a little lost lately about a question of why we were so lucky to have ended up here with our precious animals and the glorious land and healthy forest, if it wasn’t to share it with others through the cost-offsetting venture of Wintervale Ranch & Retreat Center.

We’ve fallen short of managing to build a revenue generating operation that would allow us to afford running the place without being employed somewhere else for too many critical hours per week.

If we haven’t accomplished the dream we envisioned years ago, what do we do with what remains?

I’m uneasy about the weather effects our warming planet is dishing out and wonder about how to deal with the results. I don’t like the thought of how jumping on airplanes at every whim feeds an industry that, though relatively small, has a disproportionally large impact on the climate system.

One Saturday morning won’t provide the answer to such a complex situation, but it is a chance to put our thoughts together in a kettle to begin simmering. Not that these thoughts haven’t already been simmering for a while now. Maybe we are just turning up the temperature on this kind of thinking today.

And, feeling fresh grief, for the end of another life.

It is really cold here.

We have a fire in the fireplace and our music playing from a random mix of my entire iTunes library.

It’s a Saturday morning, and Cyndie and I are thinking, occasionally out loud, together.

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Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2019 at 11:29 am

Gonna Ride

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What else would I do? Eight months ago, at the end of the 2018 Tour of Minnesota week of biking and camping, I contemplated the possibility that it might have been my last long bike tour. I just don’t get out on the bike like I once did in years gone by.

The Tour of Minnesota is limited to 200 riders and the registration opens February 1st. It fills up fast, so I needed to make a decision yesterday about what I will be doing in June this year. Will I ride it again?

The significant factor inspiring my desire to do it another year was seeing the names of friends and acquaintances who had already registered. I jumped in at number 141, and many of the people before me were the key reasons I have returned for around 20 tours since I first took the bike camping plunge back in 1994.

It’s the dozen people who have become precious friends, and the community of over a hundred treasured like-minded adventurers whom also return, year after year, to ride long miles and sleep on the hard ground, through good and bad Minnesota weather, that draw me back.

Another factor in my decision was the thought that I have no other expedition adventures in mind if I don’t choose to do the tour this year. How would I cope with not having an adventure trip to look forward to?

With Sue and Paul Schurke in a park after a day of biking

This year we will pedal from Grand Rapids, MN up to Ely and back. I’ve got a real soft spot for Ely, MN. That is where Cyndie and I learned winter survival skills from Will Steger at his homestead back when we were in high school. Ely is also where we took our children for a 4-day lodge-to-lodge dogsled expedition with Paul Schurke.

Paul was a member of the Steger expedition to the North Pole and he is also an alumnus of the 2008 Minnesota bike tour, back when Jim Klobuchar was the illustrious Conductor of the ride, so I’ve pedaled miles on the road chatting with him.

How could I not sign up for this year’s Tour?

I’m definitely planning to ride the Tour of Minnesota again, and I’m looking forward to communing with friends, old and new, who share an affinity for this kind of biking and camping fun in June.

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Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2019 at 11:27 am

Just Riffing

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‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all thro’ the house… I’m pretty sure creatures were stirring, because I could hear them in the walls. I’m hoping we don’t get any neighbors stopping by for treats tomorrow night, because I haven’t hunted down any of Cyndie’s hidden candy stashes and she is now out-of-town.

I drove her to the airport in the early darkness this morning to catch a plane for a visit with Dunia and family in Guatemala. Last night, instead of packing for her trip, she was cleaning the house, vacuuming, making me food for the week, …you know, mentally preparing for being away.

I interrupted her vacuuming and mentioned that I could do that after she was gone, in case she might better spend her time getting bags ready for departure. I’m a little surprised she didn’t start cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, too.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Those of you who are chuckling over this probably have a sense of recognition for this strange trait some people have, that they start organizing or cleaning drawers or closets that rarely get attention until the waning hours before leaving on a trip. What is that about?

The chickens and I benefitted from this pattern yesterday, when the normal evening chores unexpectedly blossomed into a grand chicken pasty-butt cleaning operation. I sure didn’t see that coming, but it will be nice for me that I shouldn’t have to deal with the possible negative consequences of plugged up chicken bottoms while Cyndie is away.

The things we do for our animals.

Cleaning up poopy butts was a nice distraction from the daily news, except that it wasn’t that different from what I suffered hearing about on the drive home from work yesterday. Most of what fills the headlines is pretty sh**ty lately.

It makes me dream of what it might be like if all the news organizations were to magically agree to completely ignore the person whose name I prefer not uttering for maybe five business days in a row. Imagine that. Just fill the time talking about whatever subject would bug him the most, without ever once making reference to him. And the louder he would try to shout for attention by his tweeting fits, the more distance the journalists could put between themselves and him.

Just ignore him until he goes away. But keep an eye on the cash register. Something tells me all the bluster and blather is a smoke screen to distract us from the siphoning of the public coffers that is going on. Check his pockets before he leaves.

Hey, speaking of my drive home yesterday, I had a lucky break by the weird coincidence of leaving for home earlier than usual after having needed to make an unexpected visit a customer site. As I got close to the border with Wisconsin, traffic came to a sudden halt.

I had spotted an alert on the electronic message board over the freeway warning of a crash ahead, so I was prepared to bale out at the exit to Hudson just after crossing the St. Croix River. If I had left at my normal time, the backup would have left me on the Minnesota side of the bridge.

Timing is everything.

Okay, that’s it. Now I’m on my own (with a little animal care help from some local hands in the a.m. hours of my work days) for a couple weeks. Let’s see how long I can keep my happy face on. 🙂

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Happening Now

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I’ve witnessed the evidence in my lifetime.

The trend is undeniable. Feel free to argue the cause.

I claim human activity is responsible.

For the time being, at least we still have trees.

I need to plant more trees.

I heard an ominous story on news radio during my commute home yesterday that highlighted the concerns of owning animals at a time when growing hay to feed them is getting harder to do successfully.

We have hay in our shed for this winter, but future years are not guaranteed. It pains me that our green grass is too rich for granting full-time access to our horses. We end up feeding them hay year-round.

It’s awkward. Like being adrift in the ocean, surrounded by water that you can’t drink.

It will be tough if we reach a point where there isn’t enough hay to feed all the grazing livestock.

It’s not a single issue calamity at risk, though. There are plenty of other aspects of the warming planet that are simultaneously having an impact. I’d sure hate to be in the insurance industry now that we are experiencing waves of increasing intensity severe weather events.

I can’t figure out how they will be able to cover the ever-increasing expenses for claims from the devastation of storm after storm.

I wonder what it will be like here six years from now. We don’t currently have a long-range plan worked out for the ranch. The initial improvements we put in place upon arrival have sufficed for a few years now. There isn’t a lot more we need to do beyond maintaining the buildings and grounds as they are.

Simply responding to the ongoing climate slide may become our main challenge.

I suppose I could always focus on marketing our paradise as a place to Forest Bathe.

I really should be planting more trees.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2018 at 6:00 am